With a staggering number of composers, singer-songwriters, and performers contributing their talents to the Ecstatic Music Festival in New York City--more than 150--it's possible for the avid concertgoer's ears to be bigger than his or her head, so to speak. And while all 14 concerts offer collaborative performances unique to that one-off event, certain concerts are perhaps more "under-the-radar" than others.
Here are just five of many intriguing Ecstatic Music Festival concerts, which I may not have adequately addressed in the other articles about the festival. Whether you're seeking to "sample" the Ecstatic, or you're a festival concert completist, these are must-hear performances.
The Ecstatic Music Festival runs from January 17 through March 28 at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City (129 West 67 Street). The festival is comprised of 14 concerts, during which participating artists who are "re-defining contemporary music come together for collaborations exploring the fertile terrain between classical and popular music," according to the festival's web site.
Featured musicians include: Nico Muhly with the Chiara Quartet; So Percussion with Dan Deacon; the Bang On a Can All-Stars, performing world premieres by Bryce Dessner, Karsh Kale,and Nick Brooke; Timo Andres and Gabriel Kahane; Nadia Sirota and Thomas Bartlett with Owen Pallett; Sarah Kirkland Snider with yMusic--and many others.
For more about the Ecstatic Music Festival, including ticket information, visit http://kaufman-center.org/merkin-concert-hall/ecstatic.
Arguably the most prime example of rock-meets-classical chemistry, this concert features vocalist Craig Wedren (formerly of rock band Shudder to Think) and contemporary classical group ACME performing the complete version of composer Jefferson Friedman's "On In Love." Music by Jefferson Friedman and lyics by Craig Wedren. World premiere: February 12, 2009, Miller Theatre, NYC (Co-commissioned by The Greenwall Foundation and Miller Theatre) Performed by Craig Wedren and ACME (American Contemporary Music Ensemble - Caleb Burhans, violin and voice; Benjamin Russell, violin; Nadia Sirota, viola; Clarice Jensen, cello; Yevgeny Faniuk, flute; Gilad Harel, clarinet; Eric Huebner, piano; Christopher Thompson, percussion; Ryan Streber, sound processing).
This collaboration between one of today's dominant contemporary classical bands, Alarm Will Sound, and Kaufman Center's teen new music ensemble, Face the Music, includes a combined performance of Steve Reich's Tehillim. The Beatles/arr. Matt Marks; Alarm Will Sound - from multimedia show "1969"
In one of the festival's most distinctive events, the highly-engaging vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth interprets both arrangements and new works by indie classical composers William Brittelle, Caleb Burhans, and Merrill Garbus (tUnE-yArDs). Roomful of Teeth premieres Judd Greenstein's "AEIOU" (excerpted here) at Mass MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts. Brad Wells directs. June 2009. Cameras by Augusta Caso and Steve Spinelli.
Darcy James Argue and his contemporary jazz band Secret Society bring their Steampunk aesthetic to a collaborative concert with the energetic chamber ensemble Newspeak, performing works by Vijay Iyer, Nicole Lizee, and Newspeak's own David T. Little.
Highly-regarded chamber ensemble Clogs teams up with the seasoned Brooklyn Youth Chorus to perform new works by the latter group's composers, Padma Newsome and Bryce Dessner, also of indie rock band The National.
Follow Daniel J. Kushner on Twitter: www.twitter.com/danieljkushner